Make no mistake; Parramatta won’t die wondering on Friday night. It’s a simple equation for the blue and gold. Win, and they stay in touch with the eight. Lose, and any hope of finals footy goes out the window.
Playing for their season, the Eels will provide a stern challenge for Geoff Toovey’s men, who snatched victory from the jaws of defeat when the two teams last met at Brookvale Oval in round three.
It was Manly centre Steve Matai’s second try of the match that sent the home crowd into raptures as he crossed in the 80th minute to steal a nail-biting 22-18 victory.
Parramatta currently sit in 10th spot, four points outside the top-eight, but their recent form is barely a true reflection of their position on the ladder.
Having won three of their last four matches, the Eels, led by their captain and superstar Jarryd Hayne, will look to cause an upset against the competition front runners and keep their finals hopes alive.
Despite their gripping victory over the Titans last Sunday, the Sea Eagles were far from convincing as they managed to fend off the Gold Coast side.
Coach Geoff Toovey praised his side for their efforts in defence but made it clear that they would have to improve their ball control for Friday night’s crucial match.
With three rounds before the finals, Manly will be out to rediscover the form that launched them to the top of the competition ladder.
The Eels have a number of stars who can turn a game on its head, but none bigger than Hayne, who is back to his form of 2009.
Hayne is currently the NRL’s leading try scorer, having scored 18 tries in as many appearances this season. Parramatta will require Hayne at his best if they are to topple the Sea Eagles.
The Sea Eagles have won six of their last seven clashes against the Eels, including the past four. Parramatta’s form at home this season has seen them drop just two matches at Pirtek Stadium, however since 2007, the Sea Eagles have won four of six matches at the venue.
Captain Jamie Lyon heads into Friday night’s clash just eight points shy of equalling Bob Batty (1156) as the second highest point scorer in Sea Eagles history.